The Power of Group Wisdom for Learning and Innovation

Mark Fackler

Mark Fackler

I am a lifelong student of leadership and mindfulness. From my early days, I was fascinated by human dynamics. Even in grade school, I asked myself, “Why did the room react that way?” 

Founding, leading and exiting a high tech company steeped me in the complexities of leadership with the infinite issues that arise. After my exit, I have dedicated myself to helping others navigate their leadership journeys. Being a CEO coach provides me the platform to help others and the motivation to grow my skill set. 

I attended the Next Stage Facilitation for Vistage Chairs in San Diego in August, 2023. What I am experiencing is a step function change in what I can see and work with as I facilitate.

I needed to witness Rebecca and Cléo – “the Pros” – doing it, and see through their eyes, as they pointed out what was happening in real time.

After practicing with what I learned in the three days, I see so much more now. I can be in a meeting (or 1-to-1 coaching session) and lead it, but also witness myself leading it.  The ‘penny has dropped’ in terms of how I see the group dynamics and noticing new ways that I can dynamically shift attention and awareness to what matters.

Why is this important to me?

Before the Next Stage Facilitation training, my adrenaline would be too dominant and my vision would be too narrow. In those moments, I reacted without enough thought – and that does not always produce the best response! 

Now, I pause and notice an interesting situation arising. I can play and experiment more with the meeting. I am able to choose from several alternatives – What is needed now? Is it A, B or C? My range has expanded.

I can even engage the group in seeing more, “Hey, this is interesting, I was going to do X, lets try Z instead”. And that elevates the group’s consciousness about our way of thinking and learning in our meetings.

One of the biggest values is to tune into the collective wisdom.

There is great wisdom in a group. 

The better you see all the perspectives in real time, the more value you will get from the discussion. 

The product of our work as Vistage Chairs is group learning – so, when we can learn how to uncover more perspectives, the product is better. 

A metaphor I am relating to is that of a symphony orchestra. If I work with my members before the meeting, I can help tune them up so that when they enter the symphony hall of our meeting, each person’s instrument is already tuned and they are ready to contribute and benefit from the learning. 

In the meetings, when I see more, my ability to conduct the meeting in more subtle ways creates more powerful learning from the great reservoir of wisdom of the group. 

This enhanced perspective allows for a deeper understanding of the diverse viewpoints present, enabling me to guide discussions in a manner that not only addresses the immediate topics at hand, but also uncovers underlying insights and ideas. By tapping into this collective wisdom, we can foster an environment of collaborative learning and shared growth, ultimately leading to more innovative and effective outcomes.

I wish I had seen more when I was leading my company, and a member of a Vistage Group. These Next Stage Facilitation capacities would have led to developing new skills in my team, produced better outcomes and a whole new set of thoughtful, less instinctive, responses in our meetings. I can see this would have changed our instinctive reactions and gave us more tools to draw from that would have brought more of the value from each person to the table.

Mark Fackler is a seasoned leader, from founding a successful high-tech company, to leading non-profits. Currently his passion is to coach other leaders, empowering them to reach their dreams.  Learn more about Mark at

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